Archive for September, 2010


Eternity

“On the day I die don’t say He’s gone.
The sun sets, and the moon sets, but they’re not gone.
Death has nothing to do with going away.”    
— Rumi

What Does It Mean To WRITE?

  “To write is to judge.
   To write is to fume and to pine, to hanker and to despise.
   To write is to hope.
   To write is to dwell in contradiction: to be all-powerful within the text, and utterly helpless without. Nothing is so egotistical and frail as the written word. To dictate meaning to another soul. To remain pinned to the page, motionless, while the thoughts you would tether run cruel, cruel circles.
   To write is to seize another’s hands with your throat.
   To write is to be a forgotten Son of God, more abject than divine. To write is to be the saviour of those who do not even care to crucify you.
   To write is to be confronted with your own infancy, to find yourself stranded at your beginning, again and again and again. Either you are a witness to your irrelevance–because the words come when they come–or you stand stuttering, shouldering the indeterminate future.
   To write is to continually speak into the absence of having anything to say. The beautiful babble.
   To write is to be soundless.
   To write is to offer yourself up as tinder so that others might burn.
   To write is to be a cynic, laughing at the meek, crying for the bold. To write is to be earnest, to chisel verities into the stone of history–to be a Sayer of What Has Been Said.
   To write is to make a parade of your thoughts, a carnival of your bigotries. Ink is your garish cosmetic. Images are your stunts. To write is to explain the aphonia of clowns.
   To write is to take yourself way too seriously. You rehearse and revise, rehearse and revise, until you begin thinking in catechisms, speaking in parables. Until your friends begin to fear you…
   Second guess the stories you pretend to tell.”

— R. Scott Bakker
Author of THE DARKNESS THAT COMES BEFORE
from his “Three Pound Brain” blog

An Hour with William Gibson

This is so awesome…an hour-long radio interview with the great William Gibson, legendary futurist and author of NEUROMANCER, VIRTUAL LIGHT, IDORU, PATTERN RECOGNITION, et. al.

http://www.opb.org/thinkoutloud/shows/northwest-passages-william-gibson/

Ever since I read NEUROMANCER in a college sci-fi class back in ’88, William Gibson has been one of my literary heroes. I never miss his books, and I always learn from them how to be a better writer. How he manages to predict the future so accurately and deliver this in such compelling, nail-biting narratives is absolutely amazing to me.  This is the man who coined the term “cyberspace.” As you can imagine, he’s got a lot of fascinating things to say about society, technology, and how the two interact to create the Present and the Future. The ways in which emerging technology drives social change is a primary theme of his works. He always leaves me on the edge of my seat and waiting for his next novel.

His latest novel, ZERO HISTORY, is now in stores. I just ordered my own copy from Amazon.com  http://www.amazon.com/Zero-History-William-Gibson/dp/0399156828/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284525671&sr=8-1

Cannot wait to read it…

Peace,

John

Gearing Up for WORLD FANTASY

"Glaurung," an amazing painting by legendary fantasy artist Darrell K. Sweet, a 2010 WFC Guest of Honor.

It’s now official:

I’ll be attending this year’s
World Fantasy Convention
in Columbus, Ohio, at the end of October.

The 2009 WFC was my first time attending, although I’ve been a published fantasy writer since 2004. Last year’s WFC was right down the road from me in San Jose, CA. It says a lot about the quality and nature of this con that I’m willing to fly across the country to attend it again…WFC rocks.

WFC is a gathering of writers, artists, publishers, editors, and agents (not to mention all the great dealers). It’s more of a “professional’s con” than most I’ve attended, and the prestigious World Fantasy Awards are handed out there (i.e. the Oscars of fantasy fiction). It’s also a terrific chance to hang out with thousands of other fantasy/sci-fi/horror writers and talk shop while tossing back a few brews or glasses of wine.

I made so many new friends and met so many great writers last year, not to mention all the fascinating panels I attended, that I can’t wait for this year’s con. I also got to hang out with my friend and mentor, the great Darrell Schweitzer, who stayed at my pad during the San Jose con. This year I’ll be flying in from Napa, CA, and Darrell will be flying in from Philadelphia. The WFC takes place in a new city every single year…next year it comes back to California and takes root in San Diego. That promises to be a fantastic con as well, but first we have the Columbus WFC to enjoy.

Another great Darrell K. Sweet piece.

Darrell Schweitzer is the master of programming, and he has put together a terrific list of panels that go far beyond this year’s theme of “whimsical fantasy.” That suits me well because I’m very serious about my fantasy…whimsical fantasies are not my bag at all (although I love a good laugh as much as the next guy). I’ll be a panelist at one of these, though I’m not sure which one yet.

There are 51 panels scheduled, but here are the ones I find most intriguing. I hope to be at all or most of them:

– The Continued Viability of Epic Fantasy. How has this evolved in the 50-plus years since Tolkien hit it big?

– Sword & Sorcery. Clearly this “literary fossil,” as Alexei Panshin once called it, is not yet extinct.  But has it evolved? A discussion of the continuing appeal and the nature of the form.

– PAPERBACK COVERS: The Swinging Pendulum Between Realism and Abstraction. If the purpose of a cover painting is to sell a book, and this is doing by  making the book different from those around it, then any trend will  eventually fail when all the other books take on the same “new” look. This  has surely been going on since the beginnings of the modern paperback.  Neo-pulp covers in the late-’40s followed by the Richard Powers look in  the ’50s, followed by alternating periods of abstract art, e.g. Leo &  Diane Dillon about 1970, followed by the Rowena/Hildebrandt look by the  mid’70s. We may be coming to another abstract period now. Is it inevitable  that another period of neo-neo-neo-Howard-Pyle will follow? What do  artists and art directors have to say about this?

– Surrealists and Their Influence.  The movement started in the 1920s headed by Andre Breton. There was even a manifesto. The term has assumed a more general meaning since.  An exploration of the original literature and its descendants.

– What is Left to the Imagination? Fantasy fiction as the art of leaving things out.

– Slaughtering The Evil Hordes. One of the more disturbing things about The Lord of the Rings and other fantasies of that sort is that the bad guys are just bad, without the possibility of redemption. If we get beyond that, what do we use for the all encompassing menace?

– The Story Cycle Versus The Novel. A book of linked sequential stories is not the same as a novel even if it has a distinct beginning, middle and end. Think of Keith Roberts or the various episodic books of Zoran Zivkovic. Why does the writer choose this structure?

– Dream-Inspired Fantasy.  Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, much of Lovecraft’s work and even The Twilight Series are said to be drawn directly from the author’s dreams. Is this merely a transcription of the unconscious  or can this be induced? Is there such a thing as dreaming on paper?

– Best Fantasies of All Time. Five panelists list 5 and explain why.

– Fantasy as a Rejection of the Present. William Morris and others created the idyllic rural medieval fantasy scenario in response to the industrial revolution.  What kinds of contemporary fantasy likewise turn away from the present and create something new out of the past? Have we just described Steampunk?

– What New Things Could be Done With Old Mythologies?

– The Tension Between Art and Commerce. Very likely a 1000-page stream-of-consciousness novel in which nothing happens will not sell in the fantasy category, no matter how great it is as art. (Or would it?)  Editors, Publishers, and Writers try to explain where the limits are and how to exceed them.

What We Are XII

“Any name or label you identify yourself with is false.
The real you is unbounded and nameless, beyond all labels.” 
— Deep C.